Maybe it is the impending arrival of Easter, however the death and resurrection of Shane Watson in the last week has been one of truly miraculous proportions.
Watson is currently on his way back to India and unless the Australian physio has magic in his fingers, there’s a strong likelihood that Watson will captain the Australian side in the fourth Test starting next week.
To say this is a significant turnaround would be like saying Kerry Packer fancied a flutter on the nags.
Whilst the facts of Watson’s suspension and reaction are well documented, it is worth mentioning a couple of points:
He has actively and publically campaigned to replace one of his teammates in the opener’s position.
He has not performed with the bat over a significant period of time and cannot offer himself as a bowling alternative to his captain.
He has failed to show the leadership his captain requires of all players, let alone his vice-captain.
He has rejected the authority of the coach to manage the direction of the team.
He has shown complete disregard for the man his employers have bought in and trusted to plot the long term growth and success of the team.
He has proven to be everything the Argus report said was wrong with Australian cricket, in relation to communication, ego, ability and teamwork.
So this is a man we are considering captain the Australian Cricket side, a job that until recently we felt was on par with the highest role in the land, not just within the sporting arena.
That Watson is being considered for selection in the team at all shows the paucity of our stocks due to form and injury, especially amongst the batsmen. That he is a potential captain exposes not just our dearth of leadership options but a willingness to forgive and forget that frankly beggars belief.
The captaincy of the Australian test team is a privilege and honour, and outside of those who have held the role for significant periods, the names of the people who have filled in due to injury or unavailability include Gilchrist, Harvey and Lindwall.
I accept that Clarke has inherited a team with enormous challenges and that the glory days of world domination are well behind us. Over the last few months in losing Ponting and Hussey, he and the team have lost not just close on 250 Test appearances, nearly 20,000 Test runs and over 800 collective appearances for Australia across the three forms, but also silent and tacit leadership and wisdom that came from their commitment and experience.
More importantly, he lost two players for whom team was a mantra and support was never questioned.
There are no easy solutions should Clarke not play in the fourth Test. Haddin may not play if Wade is fit, Wade has not had captaincy experience (neither I note has Watson), Cowan did well leading Australia A but needs to focus on crease occupation and there has been a strange unwillingness to have a bowler manage the team (probably due to a fear he may actually want to bowl himself too much)
Watson is, provisionally, Vice-Captain and by rights should seamlessly move up if Clarke can’t play.
If he does though, the mockery that is the distribution of the Baggy Green that makes the dishing out of lolly bags at the end of a kid’s party look orderly, will fade compared to the insult to captains past and present when a player who barely holds his spot on form, has shown disloyalty to teammates, and arrogant disregard to coaches and employers, leads out our national team.
There are plenty of jokes around about Shane Watson at present. If he is appointed captain, the joke is on us.